That’s ‘billion’ with a ‘b’.

Microsoft Sam

It’s no secret that OpenAI and its main backer Microsoft are forward-thinking in an effort to make AI the next big thing in computing.

But a new scoop puts a new dollar figure on exactly how deep that commitment goes: Citing unnamed sources familiar with the project, The information reports that the dynamic duo is working on $100 billion — that’s “billion” with a “b,” meaning an amount that exceeds the gross domestic products of many countries — on a silent supercomputer designed to run powerful new AI to train.

OpenAI did not respond Quartz‘s request for comment about the facility, reportedly codenamed Stargate and slated to come online in 2028, but Microsoft did not push back on the reporting in a statement it provided.

“Microsoft has demonstrated its ability to build breakthrough AI infrastructure used to train and deploy the world’s leading AI models,” a Microsoft spokesperson told the site. “We are always planning the next generation of infrastructure innovations needed to continue pushing the boundaries of AI capabilities.”

Money makers

Needless to say, this is a huge investment. As such, it shines an even brighter spotlight on a looming question for the still-nascent AI industry: How will the whole thing pay for itself?

So far, most companies in the industry – including Microsoft and OpenAI – have offered significant AI services for free, sometimes with a more advanced upsell version like OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus.

It’s certainly possible that there will be some winners with that subscription model, as many people are already forking out similar monthly fees for services like video streaming. But it’s harder to imagine freemium propping up a particularly broad industry, and even OpenAI already seems concerned about keeping costs down, as evidenced by the hard fight to avoid having to rely on training data getting paid.

And a new $100 billion commitment — not to mention the staggering power and maintenance costs for such a facility — will do nothing to ease that pressure.

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